Dick Wagner, the man who let Pete Rose get away from Cincinnati, replaced Al Rosen as G.M. of the Astros the same week Rose passed Ty Cobb. Wagner, you might remember, also fired Sparky Anderson and then presided over the demise of the Big Red Machine. Rose certainly remembers.
"Firing Sparky was one of the stupidest things I've ever seen in sports," says Rose, who feels Wagner's talents are best used as "a man to take care of the field, the ushers, things like that. I can't think of anybody who was as good as he was at that kind of thing, dismissing people, keeping people in line. They call that a hatchet man, I guess. The thing is, the hatchet man doesn't always make a good No. 1 man."
Baseball's old-boy network persists. Rosen, fired because the Astros slipped into mediocrity during his tenure, is expected to be named G.M. of the last-place Giants this week, replacing Tom Haller, who presided over San Francisco's demise. Rosen could end up leading the Giants not to first place, but to Denver.
How bad have the Indians' pitchers been? After Tom Waddell gave up a homer to Seattle's Jim Presley in a 12-inning, 8-7 loss, he said, "I tried to knock down Dave Henderson and threw a strike. That's the kind of control I had. The only good thing was that none of those rockets were hit back at me or at anyone in the field, so at least nobody got hurt."
Well, that's not entirely true. Bryan Clark, the only Cleveland reliever who didn't appear in the game, was even more dangerous. Clark heaved a warmup ball from the bullpen before the bottom of the eighth and hit centerfielder Brett Butler, who wasn't looking, on the elbow. Butler had to leave the game.
All in all, last Wednesday night was one start Eric Show would like to forget. First, the San Diego righthander, whose chief claim to fame had been his membership in the John Birch Society, allowed Pete Rose's 4,192nd hit. He plopped down on the mound during the delay for festivities, an action which Padre Garry Templeton later said was "bush." Then he got into a dugout shoving match with leftfielder Carmelo Martinez, over a ball that fell for a single and led to the game-winning run. Finally, Show refused to stay to answer the post-game questions and, in his absence, his teammates ripped him.
"I'm tired of hearing about his unlucky luck," said Tim Flannery. "That's been at the root of the problem all year. If something goes wrong, he quits. That's why runs aren't scored for him. Guys don't want to play for him. One guy got tired of hearing it."
Before the game, when Show had been asked about the possibility of giving up The Hit, he came up with this droll answer: "I guess it doesn't mean as much to me as it does to other baseball enthusiasts. Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not putting down Pete. It's a fantastic accomplishment. But in the eternal scheme of things, how much does this matter? I don't like to say this, but I don't care."
One light note was struck by Graig Nettles, who said, "The Birch Society is going to expel Eric for making a Red famous."
If anyone had said at the start of the season that Mike Scott would win 20 games for the Astros, that anyone would have gotten some funny looks. But Scott, a righthander who visited ex-Tiger pitching coach Roger Craig last winter to learn the split-fingered fastball, is 17-7. His pre-'85 record was 29-44.... Remember when Pirate G.M. Joe Brown sent Jose DeLeon down to Triple A because he didn't want him to bear the psychological burden of losing 20 games? DeLeon, who was 4-0 with an 0.88 ERA in Triple A, might still do it. He's 0-3 since his recall and is working on a nine-game losing streak and a 2-17 record.... Fred Lynn, who played the first 69 games of the season for the Orioles in an attempt to lose his nickname of Fragile Freddy, may be through for the year. He has missed 21 straight games because of a sore left ankle.... The Brewers' Pete Vuckovich, who looked for a while like he would come back from major shoulder surgery, had another operation last week.... Tiger rookie outfielder Alejandro Sanchez is an aggressive hitter. How aggressive? He has been to bat 187 times in the majors, 125 this season, and not walked once.... After the Royals beat the Angels two of three in Anaheim last week, California manager Gene Mauch was asked about psychological edges. "What does that mean?" he snorted. "I never saw Freud play baseball."